Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Happy Healthy & Prosperous 2014 To All

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Cable Bay Trail Thieves Busy

Smash and Grab Crooks at Cable Bay

A popular hiking spot has become popular with crooks looking for easy targets. The parking lot for the Cable Bay Trail has seen two vehicles broken into recently in what is described as a 'smash and grab'.

RCMP warn hikers not to leave valuables in their vehicles saying that theives are like vultures, hanging out in parking lots looking for opportunity.

A number of mailboxes in the area have also been broken into recently although an exact number isn't known.


Nanaimo Christmas Tree Chipping 2014

Recycle Your Tree

Nanaimo Search and Rescue tree chipping fundraiser in the Country Club Mall lot near Dairy Queen 11:00 am - 3:00 pm Jan. 4th. Chipping is by donation to Nanaimo Search and Rescue.

Boys and Girls Club tree chipping, bake sale and hot dog sale. Country Grocer 1399 Lawlor Road 11:00 am - 3:00 pm Jan. 4th. Suggested donation $5.00.

Nanaimo SPCA are having a tree chipping event at Brook's Landing Mall, 2000 Island Hwy. North from 11:00am - 3:00pm on both Jan. 4 and Jan. 5.

First Neck Point Scout Group are having a tree chipping and bottle drive fundraiser at Woodgrove Centre from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm Jan. 4 and Jan. 5. By donation to the Scouts.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Secrets of Success - The Queen's Hotel

 Jerry Hong - Downtown business owner

On New Year’s Eve if you are planning to dance the night away at a downtown club, rock out to live music or ring in the New Year with friends in a neighbourhood pub, chances are you will find yourself in an establishment owned by Jerry Hong.  Jerry has been involved in the local business scene since childhood and he has worked diligently over the last six years to establish a fun and safe bar scene in downtown Nanaimo. This week he shared with us his secrets to success.

DNBIA: How did you get started in business?
Jerry:  I grew up working in my family’s business. We had a Chinese restaurant where Imprint is in the early eighties, the Hong CafĂ©. Then we had a restaurant at Terminal Park and at the Best Western and my Uncle owned the Green Garden.  I used to do my homework at the restaurant after school.

DNBIA: Did you always plan to follow in your families footsteps?
Jerry:  Not really. I grew up here in Nanaimo, went to Woodlands High School and then went to Malaspina University. Everyone thinks I have a business degree but I studied psychology, however, I didn’t want to be a psychiatrist. I graduated with a degree in community psychology and after that I went to Asia, everyone was making money overseas then and I taught English for three years.  When I came back to Nanaimo I began looking around at pubs and the Queen’s Hotel was up for sale and I decided to buy the building and the business. Now I use my degree to help me relate to the people in our community as well as the community of musicians I deal with – understanding what they need and having the foresight to plan.

DNBIA:  Tell us a bit about the Queen’s.
Jerry:  It was established in 1892 and it has gone through many changes in its one hundred years. Over the past twenty years it has been known as the local establishment for seeing quality acts for all types of music and entertainment. We have had some challenges overcoming the reputation it had from being a biker bar years ago, but when I bought it from Larry Simon in 2007 he had done extensive interior and exterior renovations, and it still retains so much of its great historical character and we have really worked at making it the local venue for live music in Nanaimo. Meanwhile, my dad had retired from the restaurant business, but he got bored so he asked me to build him a kitchen and that was when we added the Chinese food restaurant. We are open every day at 11:30 a.m.

DNBIA: Tell us about your other businesses.
Jerry:  After I bought the Queen’s I realized it was a good venture and in the music business you have more clout with music representatives if you have more than one establishment.  I had all these shows that we were booking but we needed another venue, so when the Club Malibu came up for sale in 2007 I bought that and started booking blues and hip hop shows. It is now the Spice Lounge. Then I started looking around and realized liquor stores were where the money was, so when the Oxy came up for sale in 2009 I bought that.

DNBIA: That’s a lot of businesses to run. How do you keep them all going?
Jerry: Well it’s great that they are all downtown. I realized early on that we had established a good business model at the Queen’s and it was repeatable. The main thing with these establishments is upkeep and keeping up with the times. Traditionally bars didn’t do that. Upgrading and keeping the buildings clean and maintaining the building’s persona has been really important. We didn’t shy away from what the building feel was. We exposed the brick; acid washed it and maintained the character of the buildings. It was important to maintain the historical value and the heritage. We tried to do that with all the renovations; we gave it all the comforts but kept the old feeling. The Oxy is the second oldest pub in Nanaimo and we have really worked at making it a neighbourhood pub and we are mindful of our neighbours in the Old City Quarter. We wanted to make sure that while we enticed new customers down, we didn’t lose the old ones. It is important to keep them coming back and maintaining the relationships we have with them. Of course we also offer the best chicken wings in town – we serve 2,600 wings a night on Thursday’s at the Oxy. But we couldn’t do any of this without our great staff.

DNBIA: How many employees do you have?
Jerry: Around 50 if you count the musicians and the people we employ every week to help with the music. It’s hard to judge the real numbers of people we support in this business. Of course almost everyone does this as their second source of income.  Our staff is mostly students going to school, so they are not full time. Except for Billy Marlow of course, he is 72 years old and has been working at the Queens for 35 years now and Jackie Gustofsen has been there for almost 30 years.

The staff is amazing and in the entertainment industry that’s why you go to an establishment. They have great stories to tell and the bar is like their second home. They treat our place like they are the owners.  I do all the hiring and manage the Spice and the Queen’s and I have two partners at the Oxy. It is important to know what is going on at all time. We are hand-on owners and partners.

DNBIA: Times have been difficult for bar owners over the last ten years, why are you successful?
Jerry: It’s about how we evolve with the times. When the drinking and driving rules changed, we decided to be proactive and bought the bus so that people can have fun without drinking and driving. We pick them up and bring them downtown, we are not a taxi service – we don’t drive them home, we just make sure that we get them downtown without bringing their car. It has been a huge hit for staff parties, stagettes, birthday and Christmas parties. People have dinner at a restaurant and we pick everyone up after their event to come downtown and go dancing. It’s a group service and people make reservations to book the bus and it’s free.

DNBIA: Will you buy more businesses downtown?
Jerry: I think I have stretched myself as far as I can go. I don’t want to start losing sight of things.

DNBIA: What about your businesses makes you most proud?
Jerry:  Our staff – the service that you get when you come into one of our places, and the reputation that we have from others about the quality of the shows and the events that we put on. People are always asking us how we get these shows to Nanaimo when we only have a two hundred seat venue; it’s about the relationships that we have built. Rick Salt been our sound technician for 20 years and he just makes it sound so amazing in there. The staff knows everything about putting on a good show. I rely on the bar staff to tell me how good a band really is.


Bowling News Years Eve - Brechin Lanes

New Year's Bowlin' Eve
Alcohol-free family New Year's Eve Parties
2 parites to choose from
5:00 - 7:00 pm or 8:00 - 10:00 pm

Brechin Lanes
1870 Wellington Road


Sunday, December 29, 2013

What Is Really Behind WTE Opposition?

Let me make this perfectly clear, I am NOT an apologist for an energy from waste plant at Duke Point, or anywhere else in the province for that matter.

Neither am I opposed to an energy from waste plant at Duke Point, or anywhere else in the province. The truth of the matter is that I simply have not become informed enough to make an intelligent decision.

I don't think that our elected officials at the RDN or the city of Nanaimo have sufficient information to make an informed decision on the matter either. That however, does not seem to have stopped them from making what can fairly be categorized as a rash, knee jerk reaction to the whole question.

What's really behind all the vocal opposition, and political gamesmanship?

Language can create public opinion as all good spin doctors know. For example who in their right mind would be in favour of a trash burner in their city, and who would want Nanaimo to be known as the garbage capital of B.C.? Certainly no one I know.

On the other hand who would be opposed to state of the art technology that arguably is much greener than landfill, that takes waste and converts it to a form of fuel to produce steam and electricity instead of having to burn fossil fuel to produce the same energy?

Who would want a garbage burner in their city? Who would want an energy conversion unit that takes waste and turns it into a valuable form of energy while reducing GHG?

Understandably, most people will have a negative reaction to the first proposition and simply want to hear no more of it. This is exactly what happened in Nanaimo at the Regional District level when this whole issue was first raised.

Predictably, the Sierra Club and other environmentalists were quick to mount a campaign to nip the whole idea in the bud. I presume they had little trouble getting some local politico's to climb on board their bandwagon and help champion the cause.

Jumping to judgement without knowing the facts
A questionable leadership quality....

Members of the RDN unanimously agreed to let Metro Vanvouver and the province know they did not want to even entertain having an energy from waste facility considered for Duke Point.

Immediately images of garbage-laden scows with flocks of seagulls soaring above, fighting the perilous waters between here and Vancouver were brought out before the media. Nanaimo's image as a pristine, west coast jewel would be destroyed when we became known as Vancouver's garbage dump as we accepted all their garbage to burn in our industrial park as plumes of yellow/greenish toxic life-sucking pollutants blocked out the sun.

The only problem with any of these images or conclusions is they have been based on assumptions of what such a facility might actually look like or how it would function. The decision has been made without any environmental or economic impact studies of what might really be proposed for Duke Point. Jumping to conclusions without knowing the facts, being driven by fear is a poor way to plan for the future.

Modern 'energy from waste' plants seem to have come a long way....

It turns out that these plants have been in service in Europe for quite sometime and don't seem to be causing the problems raised by local opponents. The image to the right above, is a plant in Vienna Austria, apparently there is a facility within a block or two of the Louvre in Paris and Sweden is actually importing waste from other countries. Sweden converts the waste to steam which provides both heat and electricity. Their logic being, other countries are paying them to take the fuel which replaces the coal or gas they would have to otherwise buy. That seems pretty shrewd to me, and I don't somehow see the Swedes putting up with toxin belching garbage burners.

Closer to home an energy from waste facility has been operating in Burnaby since 1988, and to my knowledge hasn't created any of the disasters opponents in Nanaimo seem to fear.

We really need to know what we are saying NO to first ..........

There are some hardcore environmentalists who will not accept any technology that they perceive as having any environmental impact whatever. They don't want to see any fossil fuels used, and the idea of converting waste to energy is seen as somehow derailing their goal of zero waste. They seem of the opinion that if Nanaimo accepted an energy from waste facility at Duke Point we would be aiding and abetting Vancouver in their plans to not recycle.

Of course there are the crafty politicians who are always on the lookout for a parade to get in front of if they see a political 'plus' to taking up a certain cause.

The bottom line is, we do not know enough about this proposal to simply reject it out of hand as an energy from waste plant may be in our future as the Cedar dump becomes full and we need an alternative. The idea that perhaps Vancouver could foot the bill for a $500,000,000 energy from waste plant which we could use to dispose of our waste when our dump is full, seems like a long range possibility worth considering.

It is encouraging to see the majority of city council are open to considering the options before closing the door. Councillors Brennan, Greves and Anderson however, attempted to shut that door before any of the facts are known. Making decisions in the absence of facts is a governance characteristic I would hope is not encouraged.

What is driving the fierce opposition?

I can offer a few speculations of what I think is driving the opposition. Likely the strongest is a deeply held conviction that our consumption-driven society is killing the planet and all measures must be taken to change our ways before it is too late.

The other as suggested earlier are political folk who are always looking for a block of votes to help them keep their jobs.

Many people are opposed to the idea based on their preconceived notion of what a garbage burner must look like, and the idea of hauling Vancouver's trash over here and burning it, is simply repulsive on many levels.

Hopefully calmer heads will prevail and we will not come to any conclusions before an unbiased environmental and economic impact assessment can be concluded.

One thing this issue has raised is the unavoidable fact that Nanaimo is going to have to look for an alternative to how we deal with our own waste in the very near future as the Cedar dump site does not have that many years left.


Quotes Worth Repeating

The following are a few quotations by H.L. Mencken who was a journalist during the first half of the last century. His observations of politics and governance show nothing has changed in recent decades, just the faces on the players.

"Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage."

"Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance."

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
(Think earthquakes, water quality, excessive police and fire protection and such) 

"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out... without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable."

"Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses."

"When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before."

"Democracy is a fancy abstraction for the collective fear and prejudice of an ignorant mob."

"I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time."

"And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps." 


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Time For Taxpayers To Strike Unions?

Note: this was published on Nanaimo Info Blog in January of 2012, but like so many things, this is worthy of repeating, as few people seem to be paying attention.

Columnist Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail made the following comment in an article she wrote dealing with the teachers' unions in Ontario.

The case for public-sector unions is arguable at the best of times. Public employees are supposed to behave in the public interest. But the more entrenched and powerful their unions become, the more money they are able to extract in the form of raises, bankable sick days, job security, generous pensions, rigid work rules, and the like. The unions’ job is to act in the interest of their members, which is inevitably contrary to the broader interests of the public. Politicians are happy to comply because the public purse is bottomless (until it’s not). Politicians are supposed to bargain on behalf of all the citizens. But the citizens don’t have unions.

While Margaret was referring specifically to the Ontario teachers' union the comment is worth considering as it applies to all public sector unions who routinely hold the taxpaying public ransom as they 'negotiate' wage and benefit packages that far outstrip anything the private sector can afford.


BC Economic Snapshot December 28, 2013

 Any perceived improvements in BC housing should be kept in perspective

VANCOUVER, BC, Dec 28, 2013/ Troy Media/ – B.C. MLS sales held steady at lower levels in November following October’s downshift, affirming a deceleration following a nine-month uptrend. Total seasonally-adjusted residential sales transactions in November were virtually unchanged at 6,500 units although actual sales (unadjusted for seasonality) were significantly higher than the same month in 2012 by 17 per cent.

Locally, activity was mixed with six of 12 real estate board regions reporting monthly sales declines, led by the South Okanagan and Fraser Valley. Despite recent moderation, the provincial housing market is finishing 2013 in much better shape than it started with year-to-date sales up 6 per cent through the first 11 months.

However, improvements should be kept in perspective. Strong year-over-year growth in recent months compared to an exceptionally weak period of sales in the back-end of 2012. Meanwhile, upward sales momentum this year has only pushed the sales trend back to the 10-year average, which is below the pre-recession mid-decade range.

The provincial sales-to-active listings ratio remained stable trending near balance, but significant differences persisted among areas. Balanced conditions continued in the Lower Mainland, Victoria and Northern B.C. areas. However, a number of regions continue to trend in buyers’ market territory, particularly in the central and southern interior and Vancouver Island regions outside Victoria – but conditions are stabilizing.

The average MLS price rose sharply to a seasonally- adjusted $566,770 in November, marking a 4 per cent gain from October and 15 per cent pop from the same month in 2012. However, short-term changes in the average price are typically a poor indicator, as shifting product and geographic composition of sales can generate sharp movements.

November price growth was largely driven by a sharp average price increase in the Lower Mainland board areas. In recent months, year-over- year average price growth has trended at about 6 per cent.

Meanwhile, a scan of available constant-quality price indices – a preferred price metric – suggest little change in pricing relative to year-ago levels, which is consistent with broader market conditions.


City of Nanaimo New Years Family Event

Ring in the New Year with The City of Nanaimo's Finale Event

Families are invited to Nanaimo's biggest and best New Year's Eve party at Beban Park. This year's theme is country so wear your cowboy hat, vest and boots or anything else that says the Wild, Wild West.

The celebration take place on Tuesday, December 31, 5-10 pm, at Beban Park. There will be two countdowns. One for the younger crowd will occur at 8 pm, and a second one will happen at 10 pm.

The evening includes swimming, skating, games with Nanaimo Clippers, crafts with staff from Kool & Child, as well as a dynamic lineup of entertainment with circus entertainer, Jake West, music from Bill Perison and The Big Mess, dancing from Sara Raymond and Foot Clan/Lost Boyz from Vibe Dancers and, of course, a visit from Aunti Bobbi the Clown.

Event highlights:
  •  Nanaimo's biggest and best family New Year's Eve event.
  • Event includes swimming, skating, games, crafts and live entertainment.
  • Tickets are $25 for a family of 4 or $10 each and are available for purchase at Beban Park Box Office.


Lions FREE Skate Sunday Dec. 29


Friday, December 27, 2013

How Did This Ever Pass The Copy Writers???

Note: Email subscribers may have to visit Nanaimo Info Blog to view video.

The NEW Literacy .......it passed spell checker

During a live broadcast while covering the horrendous crash of Asiana Flight 214at San Fransicso Airport, the on air broadcaster read out the four fake names of the pilots of the aircraft.

The origin of the pranked names has not been released, but they were said to have been confirmed before being broadcast.

It really raises serious questions about how many people this colossal screw-up had to slip past, and then be actually read life by a trained broadcaster.


Vancouver Island Short Film Festival Feb. 2014

Vancouver Island Short Film Festival Tickets Online

Tickets for the 9th annual Vancouver Island Short Film Festival are now available online at www.visff.com/tickets at $10.00 for students and $15.00 for General Admission.

An annual event featuring short films in all categories ranging from drama to animation and everything in between, this years Festival will feature two screenings of selected films on February 7 and 8, 2014. The Festival will be held at the Malaspina Theatre at Vancouver Island Universitys Nanaimo campus at 7pm both nights, with an awards ceremony at the second screening. This years film selections from a diverse group of local and global filmmakers will be announced in early January, 2014.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nanaimo 2013 Polar Bear Swim Pictures

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Nanaimo 2013 Polar Bear Swim Slideshow
54th Annual Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim
Departure Bay Beach, Nanaimo BC CANADA


Nanaimo Boxing Day - Polar Bear Dip

There aren't really Polar Bears in Departure Bay.................

Honoring a Nanaimo tradition started years ago by flamboyant mayor Frank Ney, hardy souls can challenge the elements on boxing day at Departure Bay beach.

The 54th annual event takes place at 1:00 pm at Kin Hut with registration beginning at 11:30am. Participants are encouraged to put on their very best pirate costume for this great event.

In addition to bragging rights you will also have bragging rights by taking a dip in the chilly brine of Departure Bay.

The Shriner's will also be on hand selling hot dogs with the proceeds going to B.C. Children's Hospital Burn Fund.


Nanaimo Theatre Group - Holiday Presentation

Aladdin - Nanaimo Theatre Group December Presentation

This year our traditional Christmas pantomime takes us to Peking and Egypt on a magic carpet! Meet Aladdin, his magic lamp, two Genies, Princess Jasmine, Widow Twanky, an adorable Panda named Tyson and the evil Abanazer. Boo the villain and cheer the heroes in this lively panto, filled with music, dance and lots of laughter.  Bring the whole family and share this wonderful time with us.  

Evenings 7:30pm:
December 20-22, 26-30

Matinees 1:30pm:
December 21, 22, 26, 28, 29

New Year's Eve 9:00pm:
December 31 

For more information or to order your tickets today visit the Nanaimo Theatre Group website HERE.


Winter Wonderland Skate - Frank Crane Arena

From December 26 to 30, Nanaimo's Frank Crane Arena located at Beban Park will be transformed into a"Winter Wonderland" with a Rideau Canal skating theme.

 All sessions are only $1 and include free skate rentals and helmets.

Winter Wonderland sessions are:
Thursday, December 26: 
11:45 am-3 pm

Friday, December 27:
11:45 am-4:45 & 7:45- 9:30 pm

Saturday, December 28: 
11:45 am-4:45 & 7:45- 9:30 pm

Sunday, December 29: 
11:45 am-4:45 & 7:45- 9:30 pm

Monday, December 30: 
11:45 am-4:45 & 7:45- 9:30 pm

This event happens yearly as a result of partnerships between the City of Nanaimo and various local businesses as a way to say "thank you" to Nanaimo citizens.


Decimals REALLY Are Important

On Christmas morning my email contained the following alarming earthquake alert:

I did a double take, shook my head, checked to see if it was April 1st but sure enough the email alert coming from the USGS centre was reporting a massive earthquake in Montana. Remembering the devastation of the 9.2 quake in Alaska in the 60's I could only hope this event occurred inland and far from populated centres.

I clicked the link in the email for current updates and further information and this was the report on the USGS official website

I have to presume the author of the email wasn't paying attention to decimal placement, or was perhaps in a hurry to get home for Christmas.

Clearly had anyone taken a second look they would not have let the email advisory stand as a 22.0 magnitude quake would likely mean the continent of North America would disappear. On the other hand an event rating 2.2 might be the equivalent of a small prairie dog colony having some gastrointestinal distress.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013 Nanaimo Christmas Lights and Map

2013 Spirit of Christmas
Residential Light Up Winners 

Over the holidays be sure to grab a thermos of hot chocolate, plug the following addresses into the gps and head out for at least two nights to capture some of the magic of the season. Once again the Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Christmas Light Up contest and this years winners are sure to please young and old alike. The list has some perennial favourites and lots of newcomers as well.

Of course when you are out taking in these wonderful sights, you are sure to see many, many more that weren't in the contest as Nanaimo homes capture the Spirit of Christmas. 

FIRST - 6262 Olympia Way
SECOND - 921 Cadogan
THIRD - 1205 Townsite Road

Honorable Mention
- 2251 Bellwood Road
- 365 Howard Avenue

Special Mention:

3592 Fairview Drive
5152 Sams Way
3930 Rock City Road
6247 Olympia Way
520 Churchill
Canterbury Place
6122 & 6120 Somerside Place
5909 Tasha Place
2172 Latimer Road
2027 Latimer Road
544 Weber St
5994, 5998, 6002, 6010 Icarus Drive
5909 Tasha Place
6301 McGirr
101, 129, 173 Black Powder Trail
Shammy’s Place cul‐de‐sac
3734 & 3801 MacIsaac Place
3361 Bournemouth
Villa Road
2159 Bay Street
710 & 730 Hunter
434 & 449 Renfrew
Shady Mile Way
1615 Cardinal Way
4311 Jingle Pot Road (off Labieux)

Google Map Helps Plan Your Trip

A blog reader, Katia Dixon has mapped out this year's christmas lights winners, use the following links to plan your trips ..... and a big THANK YOU to Katia!

South Nanaimo LIghts click HERE

Central Nanaimo LIghts click HERE

North Nanaimo Lights click HERE

Note: according to a comment posted by a reader, 1420 Boundary Cresent didn't make the list much to their disappointment. I guess this can't possibly be a complete list of all entrants of course.


Christmas When I Was A Boy

 I could have been the kid in 'A Christmas Story'
Christmas Songs Filled The Airwaves
Everything shut down for the week....

Growing up in rural southern Ontario in the fifties meant far less consumer-consumption oriented Christmas's than what I see today. Is it better now? You will probably get yeah's and nay's to that question, depending on who you ask.

I did not grow up in a religious, church-going family in fact the only recollections I have about church was occasionally having to wear itchy grey flannel pants and go to Sunday school every now and then. Back in those days we also had a Bible-teacher who came to class with some regularity, although I can't remember the frequency.

In those days, everyone acknowledged that Christ was the central focus of the Christmas Season. That said, the flight of a Jolly ole elf on Christmas eve was what held the imagination of the kids in the early years. Getting together with family for a Christmas dinner was the primary focus for the adults in my clan, and Christmas music either on radio or the phonograph was the extent of the 'religious' focus. I do remember that my father (whom I don't think ever darkened a church door) had a record collection of Mario Lanza, whose voice filled the house with Silent Night and many more the entire week of Christmas.

We seemed to rotate between my parents and both sets of grandparents as to which home would host the big Christmas dinner, although I think my folks hosted more often than either grandparents. One thing I do remember, was that the factory where my father worked, and most others, would take a break between Christmas and New Years, as would many of the stores.

Boxing day wasn't the same shopping-addicted furor we see today, in fact I think boxing day, was a day for exchanging or returning gifts that didn't fit, were the wrong color or the like. In my circle, no one had plastic burning a hole in their pocket, so after spending the Christmas company bonus to stock the bar (as all good hosts would do), buying all the fixings for a traditional Christmas feast which of course included a huge turkey and special desserts, seeing that Santa didn't forget and getting a few other presents, there really wasn't any cash clamoring  to be spent on boxing day.

The Christmas feast would of course include a huge turkey that could barely fit the oven, which had to go in first thing in the morning in order to be properly cooked by supper time. There would be a few Christmas veggies, stuffing and of course freshly made pan gravy, which sometimes came with lumps if the flour wasn't stirred in properly.

Christmas would be incomplete without some Christmas oranges, my mother's fruit cake (no fruit cake jokes please) and my grandmother's special shortbread that had to be made with rice flour or it just wasn't right.

Christmas morning of course saw us kids getting up far too early to see if Santa had shown up as anticipated and whether he delivered our one special request. As big a deal as the 'main' gift was opening our Christmas stockings that had been hung by the chimney with care. They were like opening five or six different presents, eagerly aiming for the bottom, as that is where Santa always put the 'good' stuff!

After Christmas Day everyone returned to their own homes to spend the rest of Christmas week with their family and also visiting with friends and neighbors you either went to see or who just dropped in. By the end of the week, the dessert tins were empty as was the liquor cabinet.

I remember that week as being the quietest, most peaceful week of the year. Kids kept busy with their newest toy, the family putting together a massive jig saw puzzle, and usually the family playing some new board game Santa brought each year.

In addition to the week of peace and quiet there was left over turkey dinners, turkey sandwiches at lunch and finally a big bottomless pot of turkey soup that took us right up to New Years eve.

The one thing I remember with some sadness was the lack of Christmas music on the radio stations as soon as Christmas Day had passed. The month leading up to Christmas, all radio stations continually played Christmas Carols and Christmas songs 24/7, but as soon as Christmas day passed the airwaves returned to normal.

Was Christmas a better time then? I think so, but I'm sure you will gett many today, thinking how underprivileged we must have been when the extravagance of Christmas wasn't determined by how many credit cards you carried.

If I were to prioritize the focus of Christmas past, it would be the birth of Christ, the arrival of Santa and finally food - family and friends.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Seasons Greetings To All

And a very Merry Christmas..


Linus Explains Meaning of Christmas

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 

 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

Note: Email subscribers may have to visit Nanaimo Blog to view this video.


Christimas Shopping News --- Just In

There are ZERO Shopping Days Til Christmas ......

As I was pondering what might interest Nanaimo Info Blog readers this morning I casually checked my calendar of upcoming events and to my horror I discovered there are no more shopping days after this one............Christmas is coming TOMORROW this year!

Yikes....... calm yourself I says to myself you only have a dozen people to buy for this year, and only a small Christmas dinner to make and only a few cards and wrapping paper to buy...... how long can that take anyway?????

I'm sure the stores will be nearly empty as everyone else knew tomorrow is Christmas and will have completed their shopping by now.  So off I go, into the breach comforted by the fact the stores will be open until 6:00pm giving me the whole day to check off my list............................... now where did I put that list???


Monday, December 23, 2013

Suspect's Sketch Released Nanaimo RCMP

Break and Enter Suspect Sought

The Nanaimo RCMP have released the above sketch of a suspect in a break and enter of a home in the 2100 block of Meredith Rd. on Dec. 18.

The suspect is a Caucasian male in his mid-twenties, about 5' 9" tall, slim build weighing about 160 pounds with short brown cropped hair wearing a hoodie.

The suspect was interrupted during the break in and threatened the home owner with a knife before escaping.

If you have any information about this crime call the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.


BC Ferry Departure Bay Parking Lot Full

Departure Bay Pay Parking FULL

BC Ferry issued the following notice Dec. 23, 2013.

Please be advised that the pay parking facility at Departure Bay is currently full to capacity due to high foot passenger volume.

For traffic updates or more information please call us toll free at 1-888-BCFERRY(223-3779), check our website at www.bcferries.com or go to mobile.bcferries.com on your mobile device.

BC Ferries apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.


Nanaimo Christmas Ferry Schedule 2013


City of Nanaimo CUPE Wages

Click Image To Enlarge
CUPE Hourly Rates - City of Nanaimo

The above charts show the current hourly rates for CUPE employees working for the city of Nanaimo. This contract expires Dec. 31, 2013 and is expected to be renewed for the traditional 2% across the board increase.

Remember these are hourly rates and will not include benefits such as medical, dental and pension contributions that may also be included.

A few examples of some jobs which are included in different levels:

Level 1: no job descriptions are outlined. $23.00/hr.
Level 2: Clerk (temp/casual), labourer,$23.99/hr.
Level 3: Cashier, $24.98/hr.
Level 4: Custodian, truck driver, water meter reader $25.99/hr.
Level 5:  Invoice Clerk, sanitation worker, zamboni driver $26.98/hr.
Level 6: Accounting clerk, asphalt operator/truckdriver $27.97/hr.
Level 7: Accounts payable clerk, allocations clerk, customer service rep $28.97/hr.
Level 8: 911 emergency services operator, parks utility worker$29.95/ hr.
Level 9: Accounting clerk, payroll, CAD technician$30.96/ hr.
Level 10 Bylaw enforcement officer, asst. accountant, capital assets$31.95/hr.
Level 11 Communications coordinator, programmer/network analyst$33.77
Level 12 sewer foreman, water resources technologist$35.85/hr.
Level 13 Grants coordinator, senior applications analyst$38.22/hr
Level 14 Accountant, financial analyst$40.88/hr.
Level 15 Senior accountant, subdivision planner$43.83/hr.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nanaimo Clippers Offer Free Admission to Kids

Nanaimo BC: The British Columbia Hockey League's Nanaimo Clippers have announced a promotion benefitting children and students of Nanaimo.

Ken Wagner, member of the Nanaimo Clippers Ownership Group & President, announced that ALL Children 12 years old and under will be admitted to Nanaimo Clippers games absolutely free of charge for the remainder of the 2013-2014 regular season.

In addition to this unprecedented Children’s promotion for the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, they will also be offering youth admission for $5.

“We have three players on our team currently attending Woodlands Secondary and two that have graduated from the Nanaimo School District. This age group very much mirrors that of our players. It is important to our players, and to us, that their peers are included in every game.’’ said Jen Kennedy, Nanaimo Clippers Director of Marketing.

“We strive to be the number one place in Nanaimo for winter family entertainment.  Our Ownership Group making this bold move, allowing us to offer this incredible promotion, is obviously very exciting for young Clippers Fans and our community.  Making our games accessible to children at no charge, confirms we are not only the most exciting game in town, but we are also the most affordable. It feels good to do this for the kids.“ said Jen Kennedy, Nanaimo Clippers Director of Marketing.

“It is our genuine hope that all families will take advantage of this opportunity to take in exciting Junior A Hockey at this great rate.”  Commented Nanaimo Clippers Head Coach & General Manager Mike Vandekamp

It is recommend that tickets for all ages be reserved at the Nanaimo Clippers Beban House Office at 2290 Bowen Rd. or by phone 250 751-0593 

Visit the teams online ticket portal by using this Nanaimo Info LINK.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Songs & Pictures

Note: email subscribers may have to visit Nanaimo Info Blog to see video.

12 Traditional Christmas Songs

CHRISTMAS MEDLEY (An hour of Christmas Songs)


Nanaimo 'Bears Matter' Fundraiser

Bears Matter Nanaimo Christmas Fundraiser
Country Club Centre
Friday Nov. 29 - Tuesday Dec. 24
Beside Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut Store

Mon. - Wed., Sat. - Noon - 5:30 pm (extended in Dec.)
Thurs. & Fri. - Noon - 6:00 pm (extended in Dec.)
Sunday & Holidays 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

A Free Certificate of Appreciation will be given out for every purchase of a Warm Buddy Gift or donation. NEW! WildlifeSOS-India will be added this year to help the Sloth Bear making Eight Conservation Groups to benefit from this fundraiser.

For more information visit the Bears Matter website HERE.


BC Housing Forecast 2014 - 2016

While by no means stellar, the U-shaped recovery in home sales surpassed earlier expectations
VANCOUVER, BC, Dec 21, 2013/ Troy Media/ – B.C.’s housing market entered 2013 on a sluggish note but experienced a surprisingly robust turnaround in momentum. A jump in resale activity drove sales significantly higher and contributed to a marginal gain in resale prices, while housing starts fell slightly from year ago levels.

Housing activity rebounded in spite of a weak economic backdrop as temporary factors underpinned growth. Sales early in the year were aided by a decline in mortgage rates to record low levels during the first quarter, while the initial shocks from 2012’s tightening of mortgage insurance rules faded. Sales momentum subsequently accelerated as concerns around tapering of U.S. Federal Reserve Bank’s quantitative easing led to higher bond yields, which fuelled a rise in posted mortgage rates and tightening of rate discounts. Prospective buyers holding lower pre-approved contract rates advanced their purchases to avoid higher rate renewals.

With ultra-low rate contracts largely expired and mortgage rates above early-year levels, these temporary drivers have already eased and are unlikely to provide a lift over the forecast horizon. Further improvement in B.C.’s housing market will depend on economic growth as the low interest rate environment we have been accustomed to will tighten through 2016.

Meanwhile, federal mortgage insurance and housing-related policy has been increasingly restrictive in recent years and is not expected to loosen over the forecast period.

Growth in B.C.’s economy and household formation will continue to lift housing market activity but sales levels and price growth will remain subdued. B.C.’s economy is forecast to expand by only 2 per cent in 2014 following an anemic 1.1 per cent in 2013. While growth is projected to accelerate in 2015 onwards, employment will lag with growth of less than 2 per cent per year.
Population growth follows suit with ongoing interprovincial outflows to the Prairie Provinces constraining household formation.

Resale Transactions
After starting with a whimper, home sales gained traction in 2013 with a rebound in monthly activity to a level consistent with the decade average. While by no means stellar – we still see annual sales of less than 70,000 units, ranking among the lowest performances since the late 2000s – the U-shaped recovery in home sales surpassed earlier expectations, led by larger urban areas on the south coast and southern interior.

Temporary factors driving this year’s rebound will unwind through the first quarter of 2014. Despite a slip in the trend, annual transactions are forecast to rise 7 per cent in 2014 to 72,500 units, reflecting a low comparative base in early 2013 and rising momentum later in 2014. Annual sales will rise to about 84,000 units through 2016.

Although growth is significant, the sales level remains low when adjusted for the population base. There are few catalysts on the horizon for a sharp rebound in sales. Home sales will depend on population and economic growth, which are forecast to expand at a subdued pace through most of 2014 before accelerating later in the forecast period. Low mortgage rates support housing demand, but a rising rate environment will eat into affordability, particularly affecting higher priced housing markets homes.

Meanwhile, the serial tightening of mortgage insurance and other credit constraints will continue to constrain activity. Low-equity buyers are most impacted by the affordability squeeze, which affects demand for lower-priced homes and subsequent move up purchases.

A rebound in recreational and retiree housing markets in the southern interior and on Vancouver Island will remain shallow, but gradually pick up through the forecast period as the economy grows and older households revisit retirement plans. Northern B.C. housing markets are expected to see a pickup in activity as major investments drive demand.

Median price B.C.’s sales upturn put an early end to a year-long slide in the provincial median home price. After pulling back about 4.5 per cent in 2012, reflecting both lower prices, and a lower share of sales in the higher-priced Lower Mainland market, the provincial median price is expected to rise about 1.5 per cent in 2013 to $388,000. A modest uptick in Lower Mainland prices and strong growth in the north offset modest declines in the southern interior.

Home prices in B.C., and particularly the Lower Mainland, have remained resilient despite tempered demand. We have revised the provincial pricing outlook higher, and expect modest price growth of about 1.5 per cent in 2014, 2.5 per cent in 2015, and 3 per cent in 2016. The Lower Mainland-Southwest, which comprises more than half of provincial sales, is forecast to record price growth of less than 2 per cent in 2014, with strengthening gains thereafter.

Despite high prices and severe affordability challenges, sellers will remain steadfast in price expectations given stable economic conditions with inventory adjusting to maintain a balanced market. Firm price conditions will result in relatively low sales. New home inventory in the region is high but not excessive when adjusted for the population base, and will remain a damper on price growth.

Markets with a relatively larger share of recreational demand, particularly those on Vancouver Island and in the southern interior, were among the hardest hit during the recession with sharp cuts in sales and downward price pressure.

Despite a forecast of higher sales, markets will remain oversupplied contributing to a slight moderation in prices through 2015. However, the inventory overhang is diminishing, reflecting low building in recent years and market absorption.

Northern markets are expected to record strong price growth as major project construction and investment underpin activity.

New home sales
While resale activity makes up the bulk of total transactions, sales of new homes have averaged about 18 per cent since 1980, with the share rising and falling with housing construction cycles. New home transactions have typically aligned well with the construction cycle. As units are completed, title on pre-sold condos and houses are shifted to the buyer.
Despite new home completions holding steady relative to 2012, new home transactions have not followed suit and are expected to decline about 18 per cent this year. Part of this deviation reflects an increase in recent rental housing construction, but lowered demand has slowed sales of unsold newly completed units while tempering price levels. New home transactions are expected to rebound in 2014 by 30 per cent but remain at a low level of 15,500 units.

The sales trend is expected to pick up as buyers look towards new homes and incentives and housing starts and completion remain steady.

Housing Starts
Housing starts are forecast to be range-bound through 2016. Following a near 6 per cent decline in 2013, starts are expected to climb 2 per cent in 2014 to about 26,500 units.

New construction in the Lower Mainland Southwest will decline slightly as builders respond to elevated inventory. In contrast, starts are expected to turn higher in most other areas of the province.

With the inventory overhang diminishing and relatively low levels of units under construction, builders and developers are expected to lift production as economic conditions improve. Starts will continue to trend higher through 2016, but remain below cycle-highs.

A positive economic growth cycle and household formation will push sales to about 30,500 units by 2016. Construction of apartment and townhomes remain the dominant form of new housing as markets adapt to affordability challenges by offering increased density.

Rental Market
Rental market conditions vary significantly by local area. Larger urban markets like Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna typically have lower vacancy rates, reflecting higher population growth and diversified economies. Relatively tighter conditions are also observed in more northerly markets, which have benefitted from the commodities-related investment cycle and job creation.

In contrast, areas with stronger dependence on industries like tourism and forestry have higher vacancy rates. The provincial vacancy rate of purpose-built rental units edged lower in 2013 after increasing in 2012. The average townhome and apartment vacancy rate likely declined to about 2.6 per cent this year.

Tighter mortgage insurance and credit constraints, slightly higher mortgage rates, and a tempered labour market have delayed homeownership for some low-equity buyers. However, downward pressure was offset by an increased supply of both purpose-built rental units and private, investor-owned condominium rentals. Rental vacancy rates will ease in 2015 and 2016.
Constraints to homeownership for first-time buyers and modest improvements in the economy will increase demand for housing, including rental units. The provincial vacancy rate is forecast to dip to 2.5 per cent in 2014, and trend to about 2.2 per cent by 2016.

Regional Resale Market Activity
Regional housing market activity can differ sharply from provincial trends, particularly given the significant weight attributed to the Lower Mainland-Southwest. While general macro-economic factors including interest rates, the economic environment and confidence impact all markets, local economic and housing market circumstances contribute to regional differences.

Lower Mainland-Southwest
Housing market activity in the Lower Mainland-Southwest region is the primary driver of provincial housing market trends. The region makes up about 60 per cent of total resale transactions, the bulk of which is in Greater Vancouver region, with the remainder in the Abbotsford-Mission and Chilliwack-anchored Fraser Valley.

Vancouver Island
The Vancouver Island housing market showed signs of a mild turnaround in 2013, but soft market conditions remain a key theme for the region. Following five consecutive annual declines, resale transactions are expected to end the year 6 per cent higher than a year ago. However, weak sales and elevated inventories contributed to a 1 per cent dip in the median price, marking a fourth decline over a five-year period.

Rising sales prevail, but levels will remain low as key challenges persist. Weak tourism, government belt-tightening and low external demand for real estate have weighed on the economy and population growth, constraining housing market activity. Employment on the island has trend higher over the past four years, but has yet to recoup recessionary losses.
Meanwhile, population growth decelerated to a microscopic 0.3 per cent last year, with weak gains across the region. Similar to southern interior markets, the rapid post-recession downturn in recreational-and retiree-demand remains and cut deeply into real estate demand, particularly in markets outside the capital region.

A mild recovery in this sector is expected, particularly in the retiree market as retirement plans are revisited, but discretionary demand will remain sluggish without substantial demand growth from Alberta and other Prairie Provinces and the Lower Mainland.

Government spending restraint continues but employment is expected to hold steady. Dictated by wage contracts and budget plans, income gains and hiring will be tempered but public-sector uncertainty will fade, providing some uplift to home purchases.

Following this year’s gain, Vancouver Island sales are forecast to rise a modest 5 per cent in 2014, with stronger gains in 2015 and 2016. However, total resale transactions forecast at about 14,000 units in 2016 will be well below the range of 18,000 to 20,000 units observed from 2005 through 2007.

The median home value for the region is forecast to remain range-bound through 2015 near $335,000. Excess inventory of both new and existing units, fuelled by overbuilding prior to the recession, will temper price growth despite rising sales. However, oversupply will be less of a weight on prices going forward.

While elevated, inventory is being drawn down due to some demand-side improvements, while new supply has been dampened by sharp declines in housing starts in recent years.


$1 Skate Frank Crane Arena - Winter Wonderland

From December 26 to 30, Nanaimo's Frank Crane Arena located at Beban Park will be transformed into a"Winter Wonderland" with a Rideau Canal skating theme.

 All sessions are only $1 and include free skate rentals and helmets.

Winter Wonderland sessions are:
Thursday, December 26: 
11:45 am-3 pm

Friday, December 27:
11:45 am-4:45 & 7:45- 9:30 pm

Saturday, December 28: 
11:45 am-4:45 & 7:45- 9:30 pm

Sunday, December 29: 
11:45 am-4:45 & 7:45- 9:30 pm

Monday, December 30: 
11:45 am-4:45 & 7:45- 9:30 pm

This event happens yearly as a result of partnerships between the City of Nanaimo and various local businesses as a way to say "thank you" to Nanaimo citizens.


Friday, December 20, 2013

BC Ferries Nanaimo Cancellation & Delays

 As of Friday Dec. 20, 2013 at 6:00 am:

Queen of Alberni is operating 45 minutes late, due to operational issues.

Coastal Inspiration has cancelled the 5:15 am from Duke Point and the 7:45 am from Tsawwassen.

For more information on these or any BC Ferries scheduled sailing call 1-888-223-3779 or visit www.bcferries.com.

Updated Dec. 20, 2013 7:08 am

The Queen of Alberni has diverted its arrival at Duke Point over to Departure Bay due to an operational issue. It is expected to arrive at Departure Bay at 8:30 am.


Nanaimo 2013 Year in Review

2013 Highlights In City of Nanaimo

New city manager Mr. E. Swabey presented city council with a review of a wide range of projects in Nanaimo from the year 2013.

To review the slide presentation that accompanied Mr. Swabey's presentation use this Nanaimo Info LINK to view/download a copy.

A few of the highlights covered in the presentation were:
  • Water treatment plant supply pipelines completed ($9,000,000)
  • South Forks water treatment plant construction underway ($49,000,000)
  • Reservoir and energy recovery facility construction underway ($11,000,000)
  • Purchased 26.7 acres (Wellcox Property) 
  • Jail cell renovations completed
  • Transportation master plan, draft presented to council
  • Fast ferry proposal
  • Downtown parking enforcement taken in-house
  • Low barrier housing project open on Wesley Street
  • Wharf Street public toilet installed


MV Tachek Returns To Quadra - Cortes Run Jan.


VICTORIA – BC Ferries is pleased to announce the MV Tachek has just completed a major life extension project at Point Hope Maritime in Victoria, which prepares the 44-year old vessel for another 15 years of service.

The ship spent eight and a half months at Point Hope Maritime in Victoria, B.C. undergoing the majority of the work at this local shipyard and more than three months at BC Ferries’ Fleet Maintenance Unit in Richmond, B.C. Work for this major capital investment included:

• Hybrid battery system – first in the fleet
• New heating and ventilation system
• Full upgrade of all accommodation areas
• New fire detection/protection system
• New wheelhouse structure
• New navigation suite
• New thermal and fire insulation
• New bulbous bow and vessel doors
• New propellers and shaft lines
• Asbestos abatement of entire ship
• New engines, gearboxes and emergency generator
• New ‘power take off’ shaft generators
• Installation of a Hi-Fog, water mist, fire suppression system
• New bow thruster unit
• New alarm, public address and CCTV system
• LED lighting
• New state-of-the-art lifesaving appliances
• New electrical cabling systems
• Complete blasting of hull and superstructure
• Complete paint renewal

“At BC Ferries we are always looking for new and innovative ways to promote our environmental stewardship as well as reduce our overall operating costs,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Engineering. “On the Tachek project we are implementing a hybrid battery system, and eliminating the use of a generator for thruster and secondary power requirements. Overall, this work will result in a significant improvement in safety, reliability and performance.”

BC Ferries spends between $70 million to $120 million in a year in B.C. on maintenance, refit and major capital projects. In the past five years, BC Ferries has spent approximately half a billion dollars in B.C. on these important investments in its fleet.

The MV Tachek will return to the Quadra Island – Cortes Island route in early January 2014.